Abstract - The origin of land plants (embryophytes) was one of the most important evolutionary events in the earth’s history. The spread and diversification of a land flora changed the biosphere and made possible the subsequent colonization of land by metazoans, allowing the origin of complex terrestrial ecosystems. Molecular phylogenetic and ultrastructural data indicate that land plants are most closely-related to charophycean alga; land were thus likely derived from freshwater, aquatic ancestors from which they inherited numerous developmental, biochemical, and cell biological features. However, the origin and diversification of embryophytes involved dramatic evolutionary changes in life history, physiology, and body plan that allowed for more complex forms adapted to life on land. Some of the key features associated with land plant evolution were the origin of a multicellular diploid sporophyte from a retained zygote, a gametophytic apical meristem with an apical cell that divides in multiple planes producing 3-dimensional tissues, a sporophytic shoot apical meristem (SAM) with a capacity for branching, and the origin of roots and mechanisms to regulate gas exchange and water loss. We have been developing Marchantia polymorpha, a liverwort, as a model system to investigate the evolution of key morphological features associated with the colonization of land.
Biography listed below
B.Sc. (Biochemistry) summa cum laude, 1986, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Ph.D. (Biology), 1991, California Institute of Technology
June 2011-present (Professor). School of Biological Sciences, Monash University (Clayton, Victoria, Australia). Evolution and development of land plants.
June 2006-June 2011 (Federation Fellow). School of Biological Sciences, Monash University (Clayton, Victoria, Australia). Evolution and development of land plants.
June 2006- present (Adjunct Professor); June 2004-June 2006 (Professor); June 2001-June 2004 (Associate Professor); Dec. 1995-June 2001 (Assistant Professor). Section of Plant Biology, UC Davis (Davis, CA, USA). Research interests: Establishment of polarity in lateral organs and vasculature in land plants; comparative evolution of flower development in the Brassicaceae.
March 1992-July, 1995. Australian Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. David R. Smyth, Dept. of Genetics and Dev. Biology, Monash University (Clayton, Victoria, Australia). Research project: Molecular genetics of flower meristem specification and carpel development in Arabidopsis thaliana.
April-July, 1993. Short term fellow of the American Institute of Indian Studies in the laboratory of Dr. Usha Vijayraghavan, Department of Microbiology and Cell Biology, Indian Institute of Science (Bangalore, Karnataka, India). Research project: Studies of the molecular basis of flower development in rice.
Dec. 1991-March 1992. Human Frontiers Science Program Organization Short Term Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. David R. Smyth, Dept. of Genetics and Dev. Biology, Monash University (Clayton, Victoria, Australia). Research project: Study of mutants affecting the inflorescence structure of Arabidopsis thaliana.
Sept. 1986-Oct. 1991. Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA, USA) under direction of Dr. Elliot M. Meyerowitz. Thesis title: Molecular genetics of flower development in Arabidopsis thaliana.